Tuesday, March 18, 2014
To Retire or Not To Retire?
Then the world stopped turning.
After a relaxing and enjoyable weekend, I clocked in to work at my usual time, a little before 8:00 a.m. I went to my office and settled in at my desk. I was just getting started with the chart of one of the residents, working on some assessments, when the D.O.N. and Administrator entered my office and said "Is this a good time to talk? We need to discuss something with you." Naturally, when they closed the door, my heart flew up into my throat. I must have done something dreadfully wrong. What could it have been?
They told me they had attended a budget meeting the prior Wednesday, and that since the census was low, that there were cuts to be made. They told me the finance director had said that the logical cut would be to eliminate a position. I knew then. I was being laid off. I took a drink of water to keep from choking on my heart, which had progressed up into my neck. Oh no, not now!
The summer before I was hired at the nursing home, we had gone through a severe crisis. My husband, Dennis had undergone 5 cardiac bypasses and one in his neck to his carotid. Dennis was off work from the middle of May to mid October. We had sold items from our home, borrowed money against Dennis' income from his employer, and cut back on many expenses, but the medical bills were pouring in from his surgeries. We were just beginning to get back on our feet a little bit at a time.
I asked if there would be any severance pay. "No, I"m sorry."
I knew I didn't have any vacation time built up. I was screwed.
I asked how long I had to work. They told me to finish the assessment document that I was working on, which only needed my signature. They left my office after repeating that it wasn't anything I had done or hadn't done, that I was perfect for the job and they really didn't want me to leave. They even had tears in their eyes.
I returned the chart to the chart rack in the nurses' office. Requested some boxes, and started sorting out my items from theirs. When I had packed almost everything up, I asked the maintenance man for assistance in carrying the boxes to my car. He was busy with a plumbing task, so the nurses, aides, and even the DON and Administrator carried boxes out to my car. There was a round of hugs all around, and I left. I want to clarify that I do not blame anyone at the nursing home for my predicament. It wasn't my fault either. It was simply a business decision, and I was the logical choice to be eliminated. I was the latest hired, and my job could be done, and will be done by the DON and other staff, as it was before. I made many new friends at the nursing home, and I believe they will miss me as much as I miss them. I'm still in touch with them on Facebook.
All the way home, my mind was running a thousand miles an hour. Now what would I do? I really didn't want to go back to charge nursing. My degenerative disk disease in my back was making that impossible for me. In fact, that was why I had left my last job which was only 15 miles away, to take this job which was 35 miles away..so I could work sitting down. MDS+ coordinators generally hang on to their jobs forever, so I knew there wasn't much chance I'd find another one. Besides, I still wasn't completely trained in the position.
I thought about a friend who was interested in opening a shop with me locally, with our art, crafts, and various business offerings. I sell Paparazzi Jewelry, and she was a recruit in the business. I also sell Pink Zebra scent beads, and she sells a new concept in ladies' boots, plus a couple of other ventures. We wanted to set up shop somewhere downtown where the traffic would be better for both of us. Maybe we could do that now.
I thought about trying to get a job at the bank or somewhere else nearby. That way, if sales were poor in our shop, I'd have something to fall back on. But most of the jobs available were for charge nurses, or else CNAs, which are both hard on the back.
I never announced my job loss to anyone, until just the last day or so..when I told my friend, and my mother, and my daughter. I didn't even tell Dennis at first, because I was afraid of how his heart would react. I didn't him to go through last summer again.
The other night, Dennis called me from out on the road. He suggested maybe I should just retire from nursing and find something part time locally to do to have spending money. We discussed ways to cut spending even further. Things seemed to be looking up for me, but I felt sorry for Dennis, who would now have to carry the brunt of the bills.